Suspected terrorists entering US with fake IDs, crossing southern border, FBI head says

An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 10, 2023.
An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 10, 2023. | HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned of an increase in the number of known or suspected terrorists using fake identification after crossing the southern border during a congressional hearing on national security concerns. 

During his testimony Tuesday before the House Select Intelligence Committee, Wray spoke of terrorists using fake IDs and the problem this poses for the intelligence community.

Wray told Select Committee Chairman Michael Turner, R-Ohio, that the FBI has seen an increase within the last five years of known or suspected terrorists attempting to cross the southern border. 

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"There are a few different categories of people that we have concerns about," Wray said. "When a known or suspected terrorist, as in known that they're a known or suspected terrorist, is apprehended at the border, I'm confident in the vast majority of instances there's very close lash-up between FBI and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) on it.

"The bigger concern is a situation, for example, where somebody presents fake identification documents at the border and there's not biometrics to match up — so there's no way to be able to know that they're not who they say they are. Then, they get into the country; then somehow we find out that they're someone in fact who's on the list."

Wray's testimony comes amid ongoing discussions about illegal immigration and the Biden administration's border policies. The concerns about suspected terrorists entering the country undetected are also nothing new. 

Last year, data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed that for the fiscal year 2023, 151 individuals on the Terrorist Screening Dataset were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. The previous fiscal year saw 98 known or suspected terrorist encounters at the Southwest border, with 2023 following the trend of three years of increases of such encounters.

In 2021, which includes the last three-and-a-half months of the Trump administration and the first seven-and-a-half months of the Biden administration, 15 known or suspected terrorists were caught at the Southwest border.

Three terrorist encounters occurred in fiscal year 2020, while fiscal year 2019 reportedly saw zero apprehensions of individuals on the terrorist watchlist at the U.S.-Mexico border. Fiscal year 2017 saw two known or suspected terrorist encounters at the southern border, whereas only six occurred in fiscal year 2018. 

Former intelligence officials say migrants will sneak into the country by moving to places like Brazil before coming to the United States and claiming that as their country of origin. 

"They're infiltrating us within these groups that are turning themselves in because a lot of them have been in Mexico for a while. They learned to speak Spanish. They shaved their beards. They look like possibly a Mexican national, a Central American, and they have fake documents," former Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Victor Avila told NewsNation.

"So, they present these fake documents and enter with a different nationality. It just gives me chills to think of the national security implications that we're facing and that we possibly will face in the near future," he continued.

In addition to concerns about suspected terrorists infiltrating the country through the border, another issue is the record number of migrants illegally entering the U.S.

According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the number of border encounters reached a record high of 301,983 in December. The number of encounters in November was 242,407 and 240,942 in October. The number of encounters dropped to 176,205 in January 2024. 

Over 7 million migrants have entered the U.S. since February 2021, President Joe Biden's first full month in office. 

Biden revealed to reporters this week that he does not plan to take executive action to address the problem.

"I'm counting on the border action happening by itself, them passing it," Biden said, according to Fox News, likely referring to the push for Congress to pass immigration reform legislation.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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